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Google and EDP Renewables sign framework to develop 650MWp of distributed solar energy in the USA, marking the largest US corporate sponsorship of distributed PV

Framework agreement signed between technology giant and leading renewable energy company focuses on the development of around 650 MWp (500 MWac) in local energy communities across six US States. Companies will promote environmental justice through an initiative that provides benefits to nearly 25,000 low-to-moderate income families.

Google and EDP Renewables (EDPR), through EDPR NA Distributed Generation (EDPR NA DG), the distributed solar generation business unit of EDP Renewables North America, have signed a framework agreement targeting the development and installation of more than 80 distributed solar PV projects with around 650 MWp (500 MWac). This is the largest corporate sponsorship for distributed generation signed between two companies in the United States, according to S&P Global and BloombergNEF (BNEF) data, in what can also become the biggest distributed generation deal closed by EDPR with a client to date.

The first solar projects will begin development in Ohio, where Google ​operates a data center campus in New Albany and a Google Cloud region in Columbus. The projects will extend to a total of six US States. EDPR NA DG will be responsible for the development, construction, and operation of the solar PV parks, with the first projects being targeted to be operational by the end of 2024.

The portfolio will also be partially funded by Google’s acquisition of Impact Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), an instrument that certifies that a given buyer has the rights to the environmental and social benefits of the renewable electricity produced by a renewable project.

Google began collaborations with EDPR nearly two years ago to develop a clean energy initiative that promotes energy equity and reduces energy burden under an open book transaction model – the ImpactRec. The agreement aims to democratize access to cleaner energy, making its benefits accessible to underserved communities. These local energy projects will also reduce electricity bills for about 25,000 low-to-moderate income families. The beneficiaries will be identified in due course as the projects are developed.

As with other RECs, ImpactRECs are generated and eligible in the energy market. However, this model which was developed by Google and EDPR NA DG certifies direct investment in local energy communities, solely focused on providing support to low-moderate income families.

 What we heard through interviews with local community leaders and Environmental Justice advocates was that the disproportionate impact of high energy burden remains a primary barrier to an equitable energy transition. Partnering with EDPR NA DG, we aim to reduce energy burden in the communities where we operate, while progressing toward our 24/7 carbon-free energy goal,” said Sana Ouji, Energy Lead, Google. “We are grateful to EDPR for their partnership, collaboration and steady focus on our shared mission, and excited to have the opportunity to contribute to our data center communities by extending the benefits of our clean energy investments.”

“We are pleased to sign this framework agreement that will allow us to develop a substantial number of renewable energy projects, while taking care of underserved communities. The much-needed transition to cleaner ways of producing and using energy must leave no one behind, and this partnership with Google allows us to do just that, by making electricity cleaner and more affordable to more families”, states Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade, EDP’s CEO.

In addition to the ImpactREC purchase, the program includes the creation of a community impact fund valued at $12 million. The fund focuses on initiatives reducing energy poverty in the communities where the projects are built. Google and EDPR NA DG are committed to localized social and economic justice as part of the transition to a greener future. 

The focus on decentralized solar energy projects is one of EDP’s’ main areas of growth and investment for the coming years. The company currently has around 1.4 GW of decentralized solar energy projects installed globally and a target of 3 GW additions for the 2023-26 period. In the United States, where it acquired a leading company in the distributed solar energy market in 2021, EDP Renewables develops this business through EDPR NA Distributed Generation, with over 220 MWp of operational assets, spanning more than 440 projects across 20 North American states.